Acclaimed academic and writer Gary Bass talked about his latest book in the session ‘The Blood Telegram: The Secret Story Of How A Nation Was Split’, here on day 2 of THiNK 2013. The book deals with the systematic targeting of Hindus in the former East Pakistan by the Pakistani military, how the USA turned a blind eye to it and the role played by India in the crisis.
Bass revealed how former US President Nixon and former US Secretary of State Kissinger overlooked Pakistan’s genocide in Bangladesh despite protests by America’s own consul general in Dhaka. He felt that Nixon and Kissinger chose to ignore the genocide out of fear of antagonizing their Cold War ally Pakistan, which was helping the USA to mend its equations with China.
Bass spoke about the chilling ‘callousness’ and ‘lack of concern’ for the loss of life displayed by Nixon and Kissinger during the Bangladesh crisis. And based on his access to the White House tapes, he also revealed the contemptuous and racist attitudes of Kissinger and Nixon towards India.
It’s important to not be rude to people who could end up being in power, pointed out Bass. He mentioned the special treatment given to Nixon when he visited Pakistan even when he was not in power, and the role it played in fostering a better bond between him and Pakistan’s Yahya Khan. Nixon, according to Bass, didn’t much like Indira Gandhi as he perceived her to be cold during their meetings.
Commenting on India’s role in the crisis, Bass spoke about the humanitarian attitude displayed by India and its political parties in allowing Bangladeshi refugees to cross the border. He noted that India was largely left on its own to support the refugees as none of the big powers – USA, Europe or Russia – provided much help to India. But Bass was also quick to point out that India also sought covert approval from nations across the world to attack Pakistan for precipitating the crisis; although its efforts in securing approval came to naught. Bass explained that, “In international politics, people often do the right things but for the wrong reasons”.
By Shashank Shah